Journal of Dairy Research

Section D. Casein Micelles

The voluminosity of bovine casein micelles and some of its implications

Pieter Walstraa1

a1 Dairying Laboratory, Department of Food Science, Agricultural University, Wageningen, The Netherlands


A comparison of literature results on the voluminosity of casein micelles yields large differences, largely related to the method of determination. After applying some corrections, methods based on hydrodynamic radius yield a value of roughly 3·9ml/g dry casein, other methods (microscopy, sediment volume) about 2·2. Roughly half of the discrepancy can be explained by the micelles being not perfectly spherical. To explain the remaining difference, it is assumed that the micelles are hairy, i.e. they have molecular chains protruding into the milk serum. The hairyness would increase with decreasing temperature and be largely removed by the action of rennet. It would cause some entropic repulsion between micelles at close approach.